After such an encouraging start the previous week in beating Charlton Park, Heath 1st XV came down to earth with a bang losing out on their first away trip of the season at old foes Heathfield.
Heath seemed off colour from the outset and were soon behind after being turned over having ambitiously tried to run a backs move out of their own 22. Heathfield accepted the gift and clinically took the score for an early 7-0 lead. Heath hit back quickly after working the ball out of defence and onto the left wing for Henry Warwick to touch down in the corner for 7-5.
Whilst Heath had the early ascendancy in the scrums, the lineout was mis-firing and they were unable to get any real control of the game. Even so the visitors did manage to manufacture three clear try scoring opportunities when pulling the Heathfield defence apart, each of which went begging because of a lack of accuracy in the final pass.
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The home side also had opportunities but were struggling off the tee with a couple of penalty attempts sliding wide. A penalty for an infringement at the ruck saw Heath take the lead courtesy of Warwick’s boot for 7-8, but a well-executed drop goal from Heathfield on the stroke of half time restored the home side to a lead at the break, 10-8.
Turning round in front seemed to inject Heathfield with a renewed confidence and the home side controlled the majority of the second half. Clever kicking into the corner meant Heath were always trying to exit their 22 and simply handing possession back to the opposition. A mistake in their own 22 by Heath was seized upon by the Heathfield fly half, who danced his way through a number of missed tackles for a score under the posts and a 17-8 lead.
Heath had no answer to the Heathfield tactics and went further behind after more territorial pressure from the home side led to a penalty being kicked for 20-8. With the influential Brett Menefy off the park injured, Heath couldn’t get into the game and were lucky not to go further behind when the home kicker hooked a straight forward penalty wide. Finally, with five minutes left on the clock, Heath started putting some effective phases together and after a couple of quick tapped penalties and quick rucked ball, they managed to move the ball wide left for second row Steve Doku to outpace the defence and score in the corner. Warwick converted for 20-15.
However it was too little too late for Heath and after contriving to lose the ball from the restart, the opposition were able to kick the ball off the field for the final whistle. Heathfield deserved their win for the way they controlled the game and closed it out in the second half by not letting Heath play. This was not a result the Heath players, coaches or supporters were hoping for (or expecting) showing that nothing can be taken for granted in this league and there is still a long way to go before this squad can start thinking about reaching the upper echelons of the LSE2 league table.
In contrast, Heath RAMS were at Whitemans Green against Chichester 3 and showed some excellent rugby skills and determined commitment, particularly given Chi's 2nd XV were without a game, meaning this was going to be a stern test. The first half was tight, with Heath's forwards dominating the breakdown and set piece, and Chi's young three-quarter line running with ball in hand. Indeed, it was from a Chi kick through and chase that the first unconverted try was scored. Heath responded quickly, winning a penalty at the breakdown, with the resulting line out catch-and-drive netting the full 7 points. In the second half, the experienced and larger Heath tight five exerted more pressure. With a strong platform from the pack, Heath’s youthful backs, including three debutants moving up from Colts to senior rugby, ran in two tries in the final quarter to make the final score 25-12 and meant the Heath RAMS season was up and running.
Next weekend Heath 1st XV play at home against Deal & Betteshanger while the RAMS are away against Brighton 3 - both kick off at 3pm, all support welcome.
Heath 1st XV Squad: Duncan Liddell; Wilf Bridges; Greg Palmer; Steve Doku; Dean Garry; Sam Drage (capt); Harry Preston- Bell; Josh Salisbury; Tom Hicks; Brett Menefy; Henry Warwick; Jack Lucas; Max Drage; Roscoe Atkins; Charlie Best; Charles Newey; Dan Fergusson; Ben Whiteman.